Saturday 26th January 2013

Think I might need to consult Pippa's 'Celebrate' book after all. Getting increasingly twitchy about upcoming events. I heard the book didn't do too well so I should be able to pick it up for a couple of quid from 'The Works' in town.

I feel like I'm a kids' party debutante even though I'm not the one dressing up, showing off, getting to eat jelly whilst running around a number of chairs to music in the vain hope that I'm not the one who lands on my arse when the music stops.

A good friend warned me about how, when your children get to school, it really becomes a big deal. I also felt a little disconcerted when I was telling my sister-in-law about Bethan's birthday plans and she heaved a huge sigh of relief. She said she was glad that my nephew was old enough now that she didn't have to do it.

Following my research, to summarise, children's parties (especially for the older child) generally seem to fall into one of the following three categories:

1. Competitive: Venue size, matching accessories (including table confetti), hand-crafted cake, a theme etc etc are very important.

2. Selective: Unlike the above, only the chosen few are invited to do some activity like skating, pizza making or tight rope walking which invariably means that some child is left out.

3. Inclusive: This is the complete antithesis to number two; this is where you have to invite the whole class. My good friend said that she has been attending parties with her children where they have invited everyone in the class PLUS family and friends. One party, she said, included 45 x 5 year olds. I'm no Carol Voderman but even I know that is a lot of kids.

Thankfully, these dilemmas are two years away (Although they are hardly on par with real dilemmas like in the Meryl Streep film 'Sophie's Choice').

For Beth's 3rd birthday I have decided that getting someone to do it all for you is the way forward. This is the type of party where you can build some kind of package.

It's a bit like ordering a new car. You think you need all the extras and when listed separately, it looks like you have a good deal. That is until you leave the forecourt and realised you have been shafted.

I will not name the local company charged with sorting the party out (I can say that they are called after a popular child's board game from the 1950's). Following the initial booking where I was lulled into a false sense of security that it would be straightforward, I then phoned to check some of the details. Speaking to the young man did not fill me with confidence as he made the organising of a party for a 3 year old seem as complicated as splitting the atom.

Therefore, I have had to make a contingency plan B in case the aforementioned company named after a 1950's popular boardgame, bugger it up.

Also, I've organised it so the party is in the morning so that us adults can order a takeaway and gin and tonic in the afternoon and then collapse in bed by the evening. I remember when Saturday nights involved slippery nipples, dancing around your handbag (that was if you could dance as your shoes might be stuck to the nightclub floor) and a dirty kebab on the way home.

But I must say that children's parties can be incredibly funny and a social anthropologists dream.

I've been to a party where I saw someone sat having a cup of tea and reading a good Thriller at the side whilst all chaos was breaking loose around them. I was very impressed with their ability to do this. Although I would have chosen a Bronte book personally. Being transported to the wild and treacherous moors of Yorkshire would be a lot calmer than a three year old's birthday party. Trying to stop Bethan and most of the other kids from picking their nose and then trying to pick the icing off the cake, is a trial

The one thing I like about them though is that the majority of the adults seem as dazed and confused as you and there is a subconscious camaraderie.

Hands up to those parents who organise and prepare their children's party from start to finish. As for me, well, a soft play party it is. As long as Bethan and the other kids are happy and have fun and I get a g&t at the end of it chez Hillier will be a happy place. 3 years ago Bethan gave the fight of her life so now it's time to do some serious celebrating.